When I was young, my late grandfather tried to impress upon me the value of learning something new every day. As I have gotten older, I have tried to put this practice into . . . uh . . . practice. Some days, I do it quite well, like the day I learned that when you heat something with a hole in it, the hole gets larger (instead of smaller, as I had first thought). Other days, my newfound knowledge is worthless, almost to the point of embarrassment. Did you know that it is possible to buy a bag that is full of little colorful cardboard-ish cereal marshmallows?
I learned this fact quite by accident. Mrs. JPC and I were driving Son No. 1 north to South Bend (Indiana is like that – we have to drive south to get to North Vernon, too) so that he could catch a ride back to the Dominican community in St. Louis. On the way, we stopped at a place that is becoming a favorite stop for fresh or unusual foods. Wilson Farm Market in Arcadia, Indiana is the place, which you really must check out if you find yourself in the area. For example, this has become my go-to for the French Burnt Peanuts that I wrote about last year.
As we walked through the candy area (on the way to the ice cream counter – yeah, this place is not always good for us) the lad’s eyes lit up. “Lucky Charms Marshmallows!” And he was right – there were bags of pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, green clovers and whatever other colors and shapes they have added since my childhood when the stuff first came out.
He reminded us that it had always his opinion that if only General Mills would have filled the box with just marshmallows and left the actual cereal out, this would be the perfect breakfast. I never shared that opinion, because in addition to not caring much for the frosted oats in Lucky Charms, I was never a great fan of the marshmallows, either.
Our son’s fondness for Lucky Charms got the Mrs. and I thinking about what our favorite childhood cereals had been. At my house, Cocoa Krispies were King. We didn’t get them often, mainly because even at a young age I could power through a box in about three days. And who doesn’t love making your own chocolate milk in the bowl? Truth be told, I could still do some major damage to a box of Cocoa Krispies, which is why I never buy them. I have enough bad dietary habits without bringing Breakfast Crack into the pantry. If Kellogg’s has not trademarked the term “Breakfast Crack”, it should.
The Mrs.’ version of Breakfast Crack is Cap’n Crunch. Her life was filled mostly with Cheerios and Shredded Wheat, so when Cap’n Crunch made it into their house of five kids, it was not there long. Me? I always found it good for tearing up the roof of my mouth and not much more. But perhaps my animus comes from the time that they hit me in my weak spot and started putting toy cars in the boxes.
I plowed through the Regular and Crunchberry varieties quickly enough (for a Mustang and a Barracuda, if memory serves), but in order to get the red Dodge Charger Daytona (the one with the crazy three-foot-high wing on the back) I had to fight my way through the Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter cereal. Now I could deal with Cap’n Crunch, and I also like peanut butter. But some things just do not belong together. And in the house where I grew up, there would be no throwing out of perfectly edible cereal just because I had already gotten the car.
The car was, of course, near the bottom of the box. (Another house rule was “no digging of your hands through the cereal box. If you can’t see the toy, then you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow.” My mother was of German ancestry, and there were rules. Finally came the day when the plastic wrapper of the red Charger peeked through that awful cereal and success was at hand. Until I fumbled when putting my prize together and broke it. Not even a red Dodge Charger Daytona could make me commit to another box of that stuff, and thus passed the only chance I will ever have in this lifetime of owning one.
My, this has been quite a segue from the Bag O (cardboardish) Marshmallows that started this piece, so I guess I need to get back on topic. A goodly-sized bag of the things left the store with us that day and went into our son’s luggage. Once he looked at me with a perfectly straight face and said “They’re magically delicious”, I shook my head and told him to go ahead and get them. I am told that the colorful but hard little nuggets have been quite popular among the younger residents of the Dominican Priory, who are keen to nosh on them as snacks (to the consternation of the older priests living there.) I suppose when we visit next, we had better take a bag or two along to contribute to the well-being of the student brothers, who are undoubtedly unable to add them to the Priory’s normal shopping list. Maybe they will find ways to work them into their preaching?
Maybe you already knew that these bags of little marshmallows were a thing. They apparently are, because when we stopped by the same place last weekend we were in line behind some other young guy who bought a bag of them. But in case you were as surprised to learn about these as we were, you have just gotten a free head start should you decide to put my grandfather’s rule into practice. You’re welcome.
Breakfast Crack 🙂
I think you son may be trafficking in the wrong cereal, for Biblical applications nothing beats Frosted Flakes. If you read through Exodus 16 the description sounds just like them, although there is no mention of Tony the Tiger. Can you imagine eating Frosted Flakes every day for 40 years? No wonder the Israelites were grumpy.
It’s not too late for the Dodge Charger Daytona. I had the blue AFX slot car Daytona as a kid, and like you I broke the wing off with my aggressive driving. However thanks to ebay I was later able to buy back my favorite slot car, and this time I have been careful.
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Good point on the Frosted Flakes, although Kellogg’s seems to have improved on the shelf life compared with the Old Testament version.
Ah, yes, the prize in the cereal box. On those rare occasions when such a thing appeared in Casa de Shafer (regular Cheerios were the default cereal although my mother enjoyed “rice cereal”, which consisted of putting sugar on boiled rice so it looked to be a bowl full of glistening maggots), the horribly unfair rule was whomever was filling their bowl when the prize plopped out got to keep it.
Perhaps that rule seems endlessly fair on the surface, but I had been blessed (cursed?) with a younger sister who could be a glutton of epic proportions. She’d eat the whole box if you let her, just so she could get a prize she didn’t even want.
By the way, when Reese’s began to sell just their peanut butter, without the chocolate to sully it up, it didn’t taste the same. I hope your son’s marshmallows are as they should be.
Ugh. Glistening maggots are the opposite of breakfast crack.
Wow, that rice cereal sounds awful. And you explain perfectly why we eldest children sometimes hate little sisters so.
I never truly enjoyed these cardboard marshmallows either. I guess my favorite childhood breakfast cereal was Cap’n Crunch’s Peanut Butter. But as an adult it is Cocoa Pebbles all the way.
You and I had the Krispies v. Pebbles debate once before. The Pebbles didn’t come along until well after my tastes had been formed, thus my preference. Actually, you and I would be quite compatible in cereal choices.
In contrast, my middle son can’t stand cereal in general. He was the only toddler in the industrialized world who wouldn’t eat Cheerios.
I don’t know what I would have done if my kids had hated cereal. It was a great default in the morning. I’m NOT a morning person and frankly have little mental capacity to deal with recalcitrant children until after my second cup of coffee.
I think it would be easier to list the cereals I didn’t like. 😉 It has probably been close to 20 years since I have had most of them, but at least in my head they all still seem appealing. Like you, my bad dietary habits don’t need any help, so it is just easier to avoid the temptation.
On the other hand, my usual breakfast of frosted cinnamon rolls probably isn’t any better.
I remember being excited about the prizes at the time, but really can’t recall what any of them were. In the early ’90s I was given a box with dozens of never distributed toy cars that Post cereals gave out in 1969. If I remember correctly they did 4 or 5 different Mercury models in 5 or 6 different colors each. A few years ago I sorted them out, kept one complete set, and ebayed most of the rest.
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Thinking about it, the only cereal toy I really remember is that one that I had then lost due to my over excitement in assembly.
Wow, those “NOS” cereal cars sound awesome. Years ago when I was being watched at the house of my cousins’ grandparents, I was enthralled with some pristine mid 50s Fords that probably were cereal cars too.
I finally visited Indiana for the first time in my life last month, though to be honest, I drove straight across on I-80 without stopping. But it seemed like a fairly agricultural state. So why does a Farm Market there sell candy, ice cream and marshmallows? Here in California they sell fruit, kale, berries, maybe house made vinegars or sour kraut.
HaHa, good question. I suspect that it’s because little seasonal roadside stands selling fresh picked produce pop up everywhere around here. These folks stay open year around and sell Amish-made baked goods and locally raised meat too. And they’ll make you a sandwich, too. We were pretty surprised at the candy and ice cream too when we first stopped.
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